Howard Kurtz has an interview with Bush’s former press secretary, Ari Fleischer about his memoir Taking the Heat. Mostly a critique of the “liberal media” but one interesting insider insight on Bush:
“Taking Heat” makes clear that Fleischer is a true believer who got a thrill from such things as playing catch with the president on the South Lawn. The book does contain one hint of disagreement with the boss, though, when Fleischer, two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, told the president during a limo ride that the issue of terrorism “was more complicated than ‘good versus evil.’ ”
“If this isn’t good versus evil, what is?” Bush replied, adding that Ronald Reagan didn’t go to Berlin and tell Mikhail Gorbachev to take a few bricks out of that wall.
“The president has a morally declarative speaking style that makes millions of people nervous,” Fleischer says. “It also makes millions of people inspired.”
Although this is clearly reflective of the Bush approach, another comment in the interview also rings very true and shows this dichotomising approach is reinforced by the theatrical adversariality of contemporary press/politics relations:
Pressed about his penchant for robotic spin, Fleischer says both he and White House reporters have become performers since the White House began allowing the daily sessions to be televised: “The modern-day briefing room has lost a lot of its value. The press is playing its aggressive role and the press secretary is playing a defensive role. The press focuses on, ‘Isn’t everything wrong?’ and the press secretary, myself included, focuses on, ‘Isn’t everything good?’ “